Help from strangers


It used to be embarrassing to ask for help from anyone  as I want to do everything myself.  But in fact I know I not only need help, I need lots of help and I need it often.

At one point I realized that I'd better give it some serious thought, especially on how to ask for and accept help from strangers.  Over and over I had to explain “I have vision problems.”


Often when I‘m in a crowded or strange place, I get disoriented.  I just  need to stop and stand until I feel safe. But I know when I do this, people think I am scary or demented.



One deciding difference that I made is wearing a button which says, “Vision  Impaired.”  It immediately does away with repeatedly having to explain what is wrong with me.  This one small thing has made getting help from strangers so much easier.


Now it does not bother me to ask someone where I am or where I need to go. I even ask people to read my list to see if I have everything in my basket at the store.  And I have no embarrassment   asking someone,   “Can you help me?” because they read the button and immediately understand. 


I’ve shopped at the same store for decades and  know genearally where most things are.  For instance, I know pumpkin is in the sixth aisle on the bottom shelf on the right hand side. This is fine until they move it. Then I have to ask someone. 


I recently had  to cross a street by myself in Seattle.  

I asked  a stranger if I could hang on to their elbow to cross the street.  I also need help from strangers with elevators, as I have had several  problems with elevators since I can't see the panel.  Now I wait at the door for someone to get on.  Or I grab someone who is getting off and have them push the buttons for me.


I ask strangers to read price tags for me, write down numbers for me, and tell me how many steps I have left to go when descending stairs.


Asking for help from strangers now is just second nature and not so  embarrassing    Wearing the button is instant communication and has made all the difference.   The buttons are available several places on the internet.  I bought a dozen and keep an extra in my purse.  


A Miracle

 n the late 1960s I had a  collection of tiny gold nuggets added  to a  gold ring. I had worn it over 50 years as a keepsake on the 14 wonderful years I spent teaching in Alaska.  It was not only special because of the Akaska nuggets; it was special because I had my mother's diamond mounted on it after she died.

 Just before the COVID vaccine was released, I contracted COVID and was very ill for almost two weeks.

During that time I lost quite a bit of weight and my ring was loose.  When I recovered, I discovered my ring was missing.  The odds were it was someplace in the house, as the only other place I had been was to urgent care.

That was 2 1/2 years ago, and I have searched the entire house over and over--to no avail.   Every time I vacuumed, I listened for a noise of something sucked up.


When I got a new mattress last November and moved the bedroom furniture, I again searched, in case  it was buried in the carpet.

 So 2 1/2 years have gone by and still no ring.

 The other day we bought groceries and I was putting some of the frozen items  into the freezer which is in the garage.  I dropped a package of bacon, and  when I picked it up, I felt something  on the floor  at the base of the freezer.     Lo and behold, it was my ring!     I had gone in and out of the freezer numerous times and had never seen it.

 My Italian friend tells me that there is an old proverb, “The house never loses anything--it just hides it.”  But the house hiding it in the garage just doesn't seem fair.

 I am so tickled to have the ring back on my hand I keep touching it every few minutes to make sure it's still there.

 Now there is just one thing that is lost that would make   my happiness complete if found.   I had the one last   project I was working on. It was combining gold work   with fancy fabrics.  It was a culmination of years of   developing my needlework skills and was going to be my last hurrah.  It was the result of several years’ work. It disappeared about a year   ago and has never surfaced. I have searched and searched and I had a dear friend help me search some more.  I can only assume that I discarded it by mistake Now that I have found the ring, maybe there is hope for finding my precious needlework.


“Ole Buttermilk Sky.



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 In the 1940s, Hoagy Carmichael had a hit song entitled “Ole Buttermilk Sky.” Not only is the sky over my house a buttermilk sky, everything in the house has buttermilk in it.  Before  Christmas, I had seen   turkey brined in buttermilk. We were just having turkey thighs, but I decided to try the buttermilk brine.   DH bought 1/2 gallon of buttermilk, so I had plenty of buttermilk left over.  I started to look for ways to use it up. We have had buttermilk waffles, buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk yeast rolls,

buttermilk quiche, and   buttermilk ice cream.   But I have pretty much figured out that anything that uses heavy cream can be  substituted with buttermilk.


I have really liked everything that I've made with the buttermilk except the brine for the turkey, which didn't   make any difference in the turkey at all.  The buttermilk ice cream was OK, but I wouldn’t make it again.


Every once in a while I buy ricotta cheese when I want to make lasagna. Then it's always a chore to think of ways to use the rest of the rest of the carton.  I've been listening to video recipes on the computer.  I had made ricotta crepes, and they were delicious.  But I needed a few more recipes.  Lo and behold, if a recipe calls for cream, you can most likely substitute ricotta.  I found recipes for ricotta cakes, ricotta chocolate mousse, ricotta pasta, ricotta spreads, etc.


The recipe that I most want to try is for ricotta gnocchi.     My dear Italian friend makes potato gnocchi, which are like little clouds, whereas my potato gnocchi are like clumps of paste.  She has even given me hands-on lessons--to no avail.  I can hardly wait to try making them with ricotta cheese.  Maybe it will be my gnocchi breakthrough.   




wair a minute...I'm the Grand,ma


The other day I was checking what was in my  refrig and found I had all the ingredients to make cabbage rolls.  It occurred to me that I had been making  cabbage rolls the same way for the last 60 years and I just needed to do something different. 

 First I looked on Google and there were multiple cabbage-roll recipes "like your grandmother used to make."  I am the grandmother and I don't want cabbage rolls like I used to make--I wanted to reinvent cabbage rolls.  

 When I checked out some online videos, I found a lot of Hungarian, German, Polish, etc. recipes, which is just like I always make.  But I also found Vietnamese cabbage rolls, Greek cabbage rolls with a white sauce, and Italian cabbage rolls.  So I started thinking about it and decided I was going to change almost every  ingredient in my recipe.   I would use a different meat, a different cabbage, a different sauce, etc.

In short, I was going to reinvent my cabbage rolls.  To begin with, I had always used ground beef and will substitute ground pork mixed with some deli corned beef.  In the past, I have always used rice.  Now I’d like to use barley instead.  But I don't have any barley.  I do have  some chickpeas, which I will put in the blender.  I replaced regular cabbage with milder Napa cabbage.  A tomato-cream soup can replace the tomatoes, and, a Swiss cheese instead of the usual sour cream.

 These  new ingredients were reminding me of a Reuben sandwich.  Anyway, I tried the changes and it was different and delicious.  I want to get the ingredients for the Greek version and wlll use a lemon-wine sauce and ground lamb.

 You can tell I'm bored when I start reinventing recipes.  Also, this week I'm going to do an old pastry recipe--a  poppy-seed roll.  I will add    jam to the filling as well...why not?    










When what do you have any garbage noWhen



Read any good books lately?


Long ago I exhausted the number of   audio books in our local library. Luckily the Lilac Services for the Blind enrolled me in  the  Washington Talking Books program for the visually impaired.

 This program is affiliated with similar programs nationwide, and the book selection seems endless.  If your future contains declining vision or you know someone with impaired vision, seek out this free resource.  

I can download audio books onto my phone or on a special player I have on loan from Lilac Services for the Blind.   The books  come seven at a time on a special cassette.  I have three cassettes going at a time…one I’m listening to, one in the mail going for refill, and one in the mail coming to me.  I am never without  audio books. 

 I used to be able to order them myself from the website .  Now  I need help from my friends to keep enough books ordered.   

 Finding new books and new authors with their continual challenge.  I discovered that I can ask Google to find a list of authors similar to the ones I like.   I had my daughter-in-law do this for me.  She made a master list  of about 70 such authors.  I can have a friend use this list to help me order books.  I try to keep about 50 books ordered ahead.

  Sometimes I have to listen to a book twice.  This is not bad if I really like the book.  If I didn't, I can just fast forward to it to the end.  But if I really love the book the first time, I find I love it reading again.  It's like visiting an old  friend. 

 I'm going to start looking for new authors by genre.  I'll probably start with books about dogs.  You can never go wrong with a dog story.  If you have a favorite author no--matter what the genre--I would love to hear about it.



Some projects just get buried and never seem to get done. This is one that is a miracle that it is finally going to be framed. Somehow a piece of the very first needlework that I did survived almost eighty years and countless moves.  When I found it years ago I wrapped it in tissue and kept it with my most prescious keepsakes. Meaning always to frame it. 
Whenever it surfaced, I never had a frame.  And when I had a frame, I didn't know where the needlework was.


In the 1940s, my mother and her sister each divorced their husband at the same time. They bought an old yellow convertible and took off for California to celebrate their freedom.   They were both still in their 20s, and there were many young servicemen returning from the war and landing in California. The only damper was that my mother and her sister each had young daughter tagging along.   I was almost 8 at the time.     

To keep me bus and quiet, my mother bought an embroidery kit.   It   included  seven stamped kitchen towels, an embroidery hoop, thread, and even needles.  There was a towel stamped for each day of the week.  As I look at the front and back of it now, I’m quite proud of this first effort of a very young child.

As my mother hoped, it did indeed keep me busy and quiet, and it was the first of many such embroidery kits.  I immediately loved it and it was the beginning of a lifelong passion for anything using a needle.   And she did indeed meet a handsome young serviceman, and they were married almost 50 years before he died.   He was the best stepfather a young girl could get.


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